East Kilbride Art Centre

I work as a new media art tutor in East Kilbride Art Centre working with P4-S3 pupils. I’ve just finished up a 12 week block of teaching Camera Action and Stop Motion classes on Saturdays. Now Summer holidays can officially begin!

Summer decompression

We finished up the year at school on the 29th, with 30c temperatures and a 3 hour commute home for me as the train lines were so hot (cancellations and speed restrictions due to bucking rails).

The last few days have been about creative decompressing and planning. I’ve updated the website, though the backend changes come across as fairly superficial. It’s been somewhat cathartic, to the point of archiving my email inbox totally so I can begin to unsubscribe from any unnecessary email noise.

I’ve organised my workspace, which got to the point previously where I had to give my daughter my desktop computer just to get her off my table. The good thing with that is I’m able to teach her about video editing and help her become more digitally creative literate. I would class digital creative literacy as both different from digital literacy and visual literacy. (though think of that as a Venn diagram).

I have posts here to backdate as well, based on what has been happening in school and updates I might not have made at the time.

I was looking at planning for my own creative outcomes based on location based artwork in a variety of media:

    • location video & timelapse edits / overlays
    • small / quick studies 10-20cm
    • line drawings of location A3+
    • oil painting of location A3+
    • light & mood studies
    • using different materials (oil, pastel, acrylic, pen)
    • digital drawing & animation
      (ipad & procreate, etc or computer & painter / photoshop)
    • editing mixed media together
    • storage of hardcopy outcomes
    • development of creative assets

I am very much a creative who works from lists, but often have less time and headspace than I would like.

  • artwork
    • drawing practice
    • painting
    • traditional media
    • storage!
    • process led
    • digital
      • drawing
      • video
      • mixed media
  • artist teacher
    • reading
    • writing
    • creating

Face Painting

I spent the past weekend working as an art tutor at the East Kilbride Art Festival at the art centre. It was a fairly heavy couple of working weeks as was working Monday – Friday in school, though my timetable there is lighter since the last timetable change. Steven was working in London so my own kids came along booked into classes and activities.

The council run a lot of elective arts and craft classes, which are limited to around 9-10 children. The Saturday class I run for Camera Action is very popular, but the festival is more relaxed arts and crafts, particularly for younger kids. The second day I was face painting. I took this into school with me the following week and it was interesting seeing new S2 pupils asking for requests and one commenting that it made her nostalgic for when she was a younger child.

It’s a nice way of modelling artwork pre-teens. They are easily impressed for one and it gives them the confidence to try out on themselves and each other. It’s a form of painting that’s quite accessible for them in a way working on paper can cause stumbling blocks. There is also strong feelings and associations of leisure and enjoyment with face painting. There’s also simple learning, like blocking in lines in white, then using that as part of the tint in the painting. There’s transition also between drawing to painting as they are drawing with the paintbrush and updated your outcome as you go along, to refine it. These were my exemplars, but the kids were painting on each other as well.


Longest Day

Midsummer’s day when the sun rises at 04:32 and sets at 22:07. I sometimes use suncalc to get this sort of information, as it can be useful for photography or location based work. If I wanted to do a timelapse of the sunset, it’s useful for that sort of thing or knowing in advance which direction to point a camera over a longer span of time.

The photo was taken on the train at 07:33 when it pauses on the tracks each morning and it makes me consider time and space in the same spot each day and how the scene and light outside changes.

Teaching Photography

I’ve been teaching photography as S3 elective for the past year, but also now some of those pupils have picked NPA in Photography at S4. It’s equivalent to N4/5 level and can lead into Higher or college based learning.

The theme for the NPA is People and Places, with 4 units broadly covering understanding photography, taking photos of people, place and post production. I’ve been encouraging pupils to take photographs out of school and use class time to edit and organise. The photos they can take out and about are far better than what they are limited to in the school building. Some are using DSLRs of their own, some bridge cameras and some mobile phones. I’m working from the basis that ‘the best camera is the one that’s with you’ (Chase Jarvis) and I’ve been encouraging pupils to learn to consistently take good photos. Some are using mobile phones or may be using them in a sketchbook type of way and I’ve encouraged them to use google photo to automate organisation and storage.

What’s been interesting is I’ve used some of my own photography as examples to critique. I seem to consistently take photos of landscapes and things, rather than people, which my husband is better at focusing on with our kids. There’s a heavy basis for me in using or relying on digital photography as a part of my creative process.

I’ve also upgraded to a google pixel 2 phone, which is probably the best mobile phone camera and I’ve been explaining the difference to pupils between phones being mainly software based (e.g. HDR and software approach to digital photography) and DSLRs or point and shoot cameras being hardware based.

There are also various phone apps that let you play with the ISO and shutter speed, so it’s a good transitions at S3-S4 level. Higher photography would need be done with DSLRs or at a push a bridge cameras as there is much more hardware based theory such as understanding the exposure relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture, etc then showing that through practice. For my own purposes, I switch between DSLR and mobile camera.



I really like this web based application for generating panoramas. It’s a nice thing to use as a visual reference. This is from Applecross, looking towards Skye over Raasay and Scalpay. There are slightly different viewpoints depending on the point (and height) on the mainline that a photograph or reference image is taken from.



Timetable changes

I’ve had a few timetable changes over this term due to covering classes for a colleague on paternity leave, exams in April and then change of timetable for pupils moving up a year and S1 transitions. I particularly enjoyed the P7 transition where they were pencil drawing buildings from reference photos on A5.




Professional Development

Part of the process of becoming registered with GTCS is your Professional Development Action Plan (PDAP). This is a way for your to target your professional development in areas you wish to progress. Mine are the following:

  • Professional Values & Personal Commitment

    • Develop professional skills and experience in pastoral care.
    • Development of IDL with health and well-being, literacy and numeracy.
    • Develop greater clarity for pupils of the relevance of their learning.
  • Professional Knowledge & Understanding

    • Formalise lesson structure further with obvious starter, main body, plenary, emphasis of main end goal with clear learning pathway. Lesson activities and subject should train pupils for subject expectancies at senior level.
    • Build on practitioner enquiry through a process-led and modelled approach, where possible working alongside pupils on their projects. Consider how this could be embedded in a socially constructive art & design classroom.
  • Professional Skills & Abilities

    • Build on experience of senior phase portfolio development and critical studies. Consider how to build on work done so far in the transition from level 3 to 4.
    • Develop a socially constructive art classroom and lessons as and where appropriate.
    • Build on classroom behaviour management strategies and implementation of school policies / procedures for code of conduct and promotion of positive behaviour.
    • More focus in lessons and lesson sequence on Art & Design core skills and curricular relevant content in BGE that transitions into senior level. (subject based feedback from Faculty Head)


Fully registered

I’m on the GTCS register now as a fully registered teacher, which is great as the probation / NQT year has been quite intense. It’s a good thing knowing where I’m at after almost two years since starting a PGDE in secondary Art & Design.

Area cover

I’m really happy to have been offered a permanent area cover contract with my current school, Carluke High School as my base school. I’m in a really amazing expressive arts department with supportive colleagues. The kids are brilliant and the most exciting part is the young personalities I get to meet and know better.



Practitioner Enquiry – Colour Theory & Visual Elements

Description: 140 S2-S3 BGE pupils took part in a series of colour theory and the visual elements lessons. The intent was to see the impact working individually, in groups or in cooperative groups had on learning outcomes and retention of learning through a process of formative assessment and review, concluded with a final summative test.

Qualitative and Quantitative Approach: Art and design relies heavily on a formative approach, being a highly subjective subject with a high degree and variety of creative differentiation based on capped ability (ie. pupils and students peak in art and design at different SCQF levels). In senior phase, critical and historical studies accounts for 20-40% of final grading (N5 20%, Higher 27%, Advanced Higher 40%), with design and expressive portfolios accounting for the remainder. Art and design theory is an area of the curriculum that is more suited for quantitative and summative assessment. At BGE level, this means introducing areas such as colour theory, the visual elements and art and design vocabulary as related to EXA 3-07 ‘I can respond to the work of artists and designers by discussing my thoughts and feelings. I can give and accept constructive comment on my own and others’ work’ and the benchmark ‘shows understanding of how visual elements and visual concepts can be combined, for example, to create mood and atmosphere’. I aimed to evaluate an area that was curricularly relevant, at the appropriate BGE level, using a balance of formative and summative assessment, while providing a learning scaffold and a potential basis for transition to EXA 4-07a ‘I can analyse art and design techniques, processes and concepts, make informed judgements and express considered opinions on my own and others’ work.’.

Method: The lessons were taught on a formative basis over 3-5 lessons, marking progress made at the end of each lesson. Pupils were given an A3 worksheet to complete which included a section on colour theory and a section on the visual elements. Each section accounted for 20 in-class marks, with each question showing the marks available. Pupils were given the opportunity to review and revise their work or finish anything incomplete during lessons. Pupils worked either individually, in groups, or in collaborative groups. For S2 classes only, colour theory and visual elements lessons followed on from a series of art and design vocabulary lessons and resources, either working individually or cooperatively. Scores were reviewed and marked at the end of each lesson and scored feedback provided. Because of the individualised nature of the worksheet, the difference between group work and cooperative work was not explicit, other than 2x S2 cooperative classes (34 pupils) and 3x S2 individual classes (52 pupils) having prior scaffolding on art and design vocabulary, critical analysis and mark-making. The S3 pupils were added as a comparative control, with 1x S3 class working individually (19 pupils) due to behaviour constraints and 2x S3 classes working in groups (35 pupils). This was partly due to timetabling and overall project planning as an added factor.

The colour theory section comprised of colouring a colour wheel split into 12 sections, providing visual examples of complementary colours (opposite colours on the colour wheel) and analogous colours (similar colours), describing warm or cold colours and showing examples of hue (pure colour), tint (adding white), tone (adding grey) and shade (adding black). For those that advanced further, as an extension task and for additional points, pupils could also include split complementary colours (the two colours adjacent to the complimentary colour). The visual elements section explored the visual elements (line, tone, colour, shape, form, pattern and texture) and drawing basic 3D forms (sphere, cylinder, cube, cuboid, prism and pyramid).

Pupil Feedback: Pupils received formative feedback through the scoring of their in-class work during and after lessons. This encouraged pupils to correct and update their work for any work not yet completed or any mistakes made, while also highlighting productivity and progress. Different pupils worked at different paces, completing work at varying times, based on varied effort, differentiation of ability or differing levels of attention to detail. The final summative test feedback was delayed over the Easter holidays and due to timetable changes, so feedback was outstanding for the final summative test of 6 out of 8 classes.

Pupils were given a feedback form to fill in based on the first lesson, allowing them to self-reflect and provide feedback. This allowed them to specify on a scale of 1-6  (6 being highest) subject confidence / insight, art vocabulary knowledge, creativity / imagination, work quality, responsible learner, working on task, participating, working hard / well, motivation / effort, achievement, engagement / interest, being positive, teamwork, helping others, attentive / focused and behaviour / respect. Averages for pupils working individually or in cooperative groupings gave marginally higher feedback overall than those working in groups, with any particularly low feedback either working individually or in groups. Pupil feedback is highly subjective, however, as is pupils’ perception of their progress. Confidence and pupil perception of effort can vary from a teacher’s perspective or comparatively from pupil to pupil. Pupils also gave ‘2 stars and a wish’ style feedback of what they enjoyed about the lesson or what could be improved (Harris, 2007). Feedback from pupils reinforced the benefits of promoting a social constructivist approach (Powell & Kalina, 2009), where 5% of pupils specifically commented positively about working with their peers and 7% who were working individually, requested group work or indicated group work would be more beneficial and engaging. 11% of pupils commented positively on material choice, with this being strongly correlated to the cooperative pupils given the opportunity to explore a wider range of materials. 5% commented negatively requesting more exciting materials. 20% of pupils commented positively on the lesson tasks, with 14% providing negative feedback for task improvement. Again, there was a correlation between negative feedback being linked to a more individualised working approach and positive feedback towards group and cooperative work.

Analysis and Conclusion: As you would expect, there was a strong correlation between the level of effort and final grade achieved. This correlation applied most strongly to pupils working cooperatively, then pupils in groups, who were both more likely to gain a higher grading than those working individually. Within groupings, the level of effort increased overall in cooperative groupings. For pupils working individually there was a greater spread of high and low effort pupils, which reflected in their attainment. This correlates with previous research on differentiation, whereby higher attaining pupils being mixed with lower attaining pupils provides benefits for all, whereas streaming benefits individuals who are more likely or more predisposed to attain (Ireson & Hallam, 2010).

Additional considerations that may impact results include pupil absence, pupil and class behaviour, class dynamics, balancing formative and summative assessment and the level of interactionist classroom management (Martin and Baldwin, 1993). The final test was completed by submitting a google form where pupils submitted their answers, which were then reviewed. Out of 140 pupils, 1 asked permission and then used google to check and verify her answers. There had been no suggestion or indication that pupils could not do this. They were not explicitly told not to, other than being told they could not vocally discuss their answers with each other during the final test. This was an interesting creative initiative by the pupil when considering Bloom’s digital taxonomy (Churches, 2010) and the idea that information is at our fingertips, therefore we should question which information or knowledge we ought to know by rote, rather than by reference. The biggest variable, with the greatest impact was pupil effort irrespective of groupings, however, there was a correlation indicating that cooperative groupings motivated pupils more highly in general. Effort, in turn, relates to motivation on the part of the pupil and is impacted by classroom management on the part of the teacher.

The focus of the lesson sequence was on formative assessment of BGE curriculum content that lent itself best to a concluding and comparative summative assessment in order to provide quantitative data. This corresponds similarly to portfolio development at senior level, where pupils are reviewed formatively on a period by period basis and internal summative assessments and estimates are made before submission to SQA for summative grading. As an art and design practitioner and teacher, my qualitative gut feeling and professional opinion is that practice-based research would be more beneficial for practitioner enquiry over a longer duration or variety of creative formative projects and exemplars through arts-based research (Leavy, 2017). As much as the graphic designer in me enjoys the visual communication of a spreadsheet and graph, there is nothing particularly expressive or creative about either. A summative approach that incorporates formative development provides an overview of general trends, where we can drill down evidentially on a pupil by pupil basis, based on individual or common learner needs (Gilchrist, 2018). However, I would expect to find more opportunity for process-based, procedural learning and creative output with practice-based practitioner enquiry and arts-based research. This could relate to teacher creative practice, pupils’ practice and output or an approach that links together teacher and pupil creative practice, formatively and reciprocally.

A formative-led, summative approach works as an evidential indicator. However, we must not lose track of pupils’ creative output, outcomes, process based learning or ‘aha moments’. These higher order learning moments can’t easily be recorded or shared summatively or when we view pupils and their outcomes as data, rather than using creative outcomes evidently in a qualitative way. In an art and design context, we run the risk of undermining creative learning and output of both teachers and pupils by relying on rote based quantitative data and analysis rather than qualitative and formative feedback of learning and progress. Teacher professional enquiry can better provide a growth mindset ethos that promotes pupil consolidation, by using a formative approach within an adaptive practice-led context. The difficulty is that there is a proportion of the art and design curriculum built on rote learning, visual and written literacy (including IDL) and curricular knowledge, that goes beyond generalised 3rd and 4th level Es & Os or benchmarks. To support learning, we must balance formative and summative assessment for learning approaches, ensuring positive impact based on learners’ needs. We must do so without negatively impacting process based learning or altering teaching due to a demand for data, particularly if this compromises learning impact and the demands and requirements of the art and design curriculum.